Fabiola Polli has two passions: science and sustainable clothing. Her love for science led her to a PhD in synthetic biology at the RUG, and later, a post-doc. In her spare time, she helps other people appreciate the potential of previously loved clothes with her new ‘green platform’ Chicfashic.
By Ayla Pollmann
Fabiola Polli grew up in Rome, the city of fashion. Her mum and sister were seamstresses, and so Fabiola has always believed that clothes should be recreated, repaired, and exchanged. ‘I always saw the beauty in secondhand clothes.’
But Chicfashic is not just about enjoying the clothes, says Fabiola. It’s also about raising awareness and creating community. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world and clothing production often relies on exploitative salaries and dangerous working conditions for workers.
Fabiola wanted to build a platform that would fundamentally change our approach to clothes in Groningen by finding ways to make the clothes we have last longer and reducing the production of new clothes. ‘It’s like Airbnb for fashion’, Fabiola explains. ‘It’s an eco-friendly marketplace where clothes can be rented or sold at low prices.’
RUG students with small bank accounts will benefit the most from Chicfashic, where they can even rent single-use pieces like skiing gear and ballgowns. ‘Thanks to the low cost of buying or renting clothes, Chicfashic makes it possible to change your style every day and be a different person any time you please’, says Fabiola. ‘Today, a punk rocker; tomorrow, a businessman.’
Fabiola has tried to engineer community-building into her platform as well. To rent or buy an item, you reach out to the seller personally. The next step is meeting up in person for the exchange – an opportunity for users to get know each other and share their ideas about sustainability, says Fabiola.
In order to educate others about the dangers of fast fashion, she and her team of volunteers are offering free monthly workshops. ‘I want people to know that we can fix things, and experience pride and happiness by doing so.’